Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants bounce back, even series

Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants bounce back, even series
October 16, 2012, 3:18 am
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SAN FRANCISCO There might not be anything in Hunter Pences Pentecostal, pregame sermon about revenge. But its right there in Leviticus, and lets use the King James translation to be spot-on:

Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he has caused a disfigurement in a man, so shall it be done to him again.

The Giants were not sure whether Marco Scutaro suffered a fracture when Matt Holliday took out his legs at second base Monday night. But before limping to the X-ray room to have his left hip examined, Scutaro returned the deed by cracking open the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff.

NEWS: Scutaro leaves early with hip injury

Scutaro lined a two-run single in the fourth, and to add a dash of Shakespeare to this dramatic little teleplay, the selfsame Holliday kicked it in left field for an error that allowed a third run to score.

This delightful bit of vengeance opened up a one-run game and gave comfort to Ryan Vogelsong, who wrote perhaps the best lines yet in his own deliverance story. Vogelsong flat-out dominated the Cardinals in a 7-1 victory at AT&T Park.

The Giants evened this best-of-7 series as they head to St. Louis for Game 3 behind Matt Cain on Wednesday. And because Vogelsong became the first Giants starting pitcher in seven postseason games to complete six innings, manager Bruce Bochy has the option to start a resurgent Tim Lincecum in Game 4.

Starting pitching report
Vogelsong was precisely the kind of fighter the Giants needed last week in the NLDS, when they shoved off on their quest to win three consecutive in Cincinnati. He provided the same pugnacious punch to keep the Giants from going down 0-2 at home for the second consecutive series.

The Cardinals battled him in the early going and put runners at the corners after Hollidays slide extended the first inning. But Vogelsong kept throwing his toxic mix of two-seamers, curves and sliders toward the bottom of the strike zone and Yadier Molina grounded out to end the threat.

Vogelsong gave up his only run in the second inning, after he didnt get a 2-2 call on a close pitch to No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma. With steam coming out of his ears, Vogelsong appeared to yank the 3-2 pitch as Kozma drew a walk. Then pitcher Chris Carpenter took advantage of a 1-1 mistake over the middle for an RBI double that tied the score. Vogelsong managed to strand Carpenter by throwing a curveball that Jon Jay could only scoop for a routine fly out to left field.

It took another quiver full of pitches for Vogelsong to subdue the Cards in the third after Carlos Beltran lined a convincing double. He had thrown 68 by that time, which was no small concern.

But Vogelsong got efficient, and quick. He overwhelmed the Cardinals in a 10-pitch fourth inning, and then again in a 10-pitch fifth inning. He kept throwing with life inside and hitting spots on the outer half to stiffen up a Cardinals lineup that prides itself on turning itself over.

He retired his last nine hitters to get through the seventh and earn his first career postseason win along with an orange-splashed, standing ovation the likes of which he couldnt have imagined when pitching thousands of miles away for Hanshin or in the Venezuelan Winter League or when twice handed his Triple-A walking papers.

Right now, theres no question about it: Vogelsong is the Giants best starting pitcher this postseason. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA (seven hits, two earned runs, no home runs in 12 innings). The rest of the Giants rotation is 1-3 with a 7.59 ERA (30 hits, 18 earned runs and six home runs in 21 13 innings).

Bullpen report
Jeremy Affeldt continued to dazzle this postseason. He went through the dangerous heart of the Cardinals order on just eight pitches, getting Carlos Beltran to pop out, Holliday to ground out and Allen Craig to fly out.

Affeldt is unscored upon in five appearances spanning 5 23 innings this postseason. For the second consecutive night, he needed just eight pitches to record three outs.

Affeldt now has a 1.80 ERA in 17 career postseason games.

The Giants had Sergio Romo warming alongside Guillermo Mota in the ninth; even after Ryan Theriots two-run single provided more breathing room, Bochy made the crowd-pleasing choice.

He went to Romo, who worked around a leadoff single to set off the steam cannons and bring his teammates out to form a handshake line.

At the plate
Angel Pagan saluted his dugout after leading off the first inning with a home run into the right field arcade off Carpenter, who still had experience if not the same stuff that helped him win Game 7 of the World Series a year ago.

The Giants had chances but set up their breakthrough rally with a flurry of unimpressive contact in the fourth. Brandon Belt blooped a one-out double, Gregor Blanco chopped a single over the head of third baseman David Freese as he defended the bunt and then Brandon Crawford hit a troublesome chopper off the plate. Carpenter tried to make a lunging throw around Crawford but his attempt was wide for an error as Belt scored the tiebreaking run.

After Vogelsong managed to get down a successful, two-strike sacrifice bunt, Pagan refused to bite on a series of offspeed pitches while drawing a walk. That loaded the bases for Scutaro, who delivered the revenge that Vogelsong wasnt allowed to inflict on Holliday.

He lined Carpenters 1-1 pitch to left field, and with the runners moving on two-out contact, it was easy breezing for Pagan to score from first when Holliday let the ball bounce away from him.

Scutaro departed to begin the sixth inning, as Theriot replaced him at second base. The Giants confirmed that Scutaro had an injured left hip and was being taken for X-rays.

The Giants piled on two more runs in the eighth with two memorable footnotes: An apparent blown call on the bases and the sight of Aubrey Huff, the original water buffalo, scoring from second base on a single.

Gregor Blanco started the rally with a walk but had to re-touch second base and make a mad dash after Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay made a diving catch of Crawfords drive. Replays showed Craig applied the tag, but umpire Bill Miller didnt see it that way.

Huff followed with a pinch lawn dart that fell near the chalk beyond third base, Pagan continued his huge night with a line single to load the bases and Theriot burned his former team with a two-run single over the shortstops head.

Giants third base coach Tim Flannery is a spiritual man and a heck of an anthem singer, but hes got a dark, dark heart. He sent Huff with two outs, and the Cardinals unwisely cut off the throw home.

In field
The Giants played flawless defense from the first inning, when a strip of intense, afternoon sun made the outfield extra tough. Pagan stayed with Jays deep drive to start the game, and Blanco did the same in left field.

Crawford charged Molinas grounder in the first inning and remembered who was running. He didnt rush the play more than necessary while making a deft pickup and throw.

Belt had to hurry, though, to catch Molinas foul pop to end the third. The first baseman ran all the way to the corner of the stands past the field-level suite to make the grab.

Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma made a diving catch of Crawfords liner with runners at the corners in the fifth inning.

Attendance
The Giants announced 42,679 paid. The crowd chanted MVP for Buster Posey, of course. But their cries of Vo-gey, Vo-gey were the loudest of the night.

Up next
Both teams travel on Tuesday before resuming the NLCS on Wednesday at Busch Stadium with a matchup of aces. Right-hander Matt Cain (1-1, 5.06 ERA in two postseason starts) opposes right-hander Kyle Lohse (1-0, 2.13 in two postseason starts). First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 p.m. PDT.

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